EU: Pressure on Greece for Dublin returns is ‘hypocritical’

European Commission pressure on Greece to improve conditions so that Dublin transfers to Greece can resume is hypocritical, as one of the main reasons why conditions for refugees in Greece - particularly on the islands - are so dire, is the EU’s deal with Turkey, said Amnesty International.

The reaction comes in response to an announcement today by the European Commission that EU member states will be able to return migrants to Greece from mid-March.

Pressure on Greece must be immediately alleviated, not increased
Iverna McGowan, Amnesty International

“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece. It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal, and compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institution’s Office.

“Asylum-seekers on the Greek islands face overcrowding, freezing temperatures, lack of hot water, violence and hate-motivated attacks. While we have long called for reception conditions to improve, forcing refugees to stay on the islands only so that they can be returned to Turkey, in line with Turkey’s interpretation of the deal, is inhumane. Pressure on Greece must be immediately alleviated, not increased.

Amnesty International recommends that to alleviate pressure on Greece:

  • Asylum seekers should urgently be transferred from the islands to the mainland; 
  • They should be reunited with their families in other countries;

Relocation to other European countries who have committed to take refugees from Greece should be sped up.